Wunderland Kalkar: Nuclear Power Plant Turned Amusement Park

Jun 2, 2011 0 comments

In Kalkar in 1972, construction was started on the SNR-300, the first fast breeder nuclear reactor in Germany. The reactor was designed to use plutonium as fuel and be cooled by sodium, and was to output 327 megawatts of energy. It was still a very new technology at the time, but the German government was determined to limit energy import and, as the uranium supply in Germany was limited, a breeder facility to use the limited resources efficiently was required.

The local state government was concerned about the safety of nuclear energy, and sporadic demonstration continually delayed the project. In 1979, disaster struck at another nuclear plant at Three Mile Island, and public protests reached new heights. Despite opposition, construction of the SNR-300 continued and by 1985 the power plant was competed. By that time about 7 billion Deutsche Mark (about 3.5 billion euros or over 4 billion USD) were already spent on it.

Then in 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster, the SNR-300 never went into full operation, and in 1991, the project was officially cancelled.


Totally unused, the building is essentially one of the most expensive, complicated pieces of trash in the world. Among the more amazing facts about the unused reactor are its cost - "20,000 houses with a value of 200,000 Euro each could have been built with the money;" its size - the total complex being some 80 soccer fields large, made of enough concrete to construct a highway from Amsterdam to Maastricht; and its complexity - with enough wire strung up in the complex to circle the entire globe twice.

The grounds were sold in 1991 to a Dutch investor who, leaving the reactor building in place, set up an amusement park called "Kernies Wunderland." The name was eventually changed to the "Wunderland Kalkar," which today occupies the grounds as well as the unused reactor.

There are a total of 40 attractions on the premises, including a rollercoaster , the whirligig "Flying Carrousel", the vertical travel "Jumping Star", "Kernie's boat," the nostalgic carousel "Merry Go Round", the Ferris wheel "Mini Ferris Wheel" and a flume. The inside of the cooling tower was outfitted with a swing ride, and the outer wall was added to a climbing wall converted. In addition, it houses a case- whirligig called "Vertical Swing," which weighs 25 tons and its 58 m height of the tower on the edge protrudes, and there is a children's park with ten different attractions.

"Wunderland Kalkar" receives some 600,000 visitors a year and employs about 550 people on the high season.


A merry-go-round turns inside the cooling tower of the former nuclear power plant in Kalkar, western Germany, on May 28. (Patrik Stollarz/ AFP - Getty Images)


Photo: Patrik Stollarz/ AFP - Getty Images


Photo: Patrik Stollarz/ AFP - Getty Images


The cooling tower. Image credit


Merry-go-round inside the cooling tower. Image credit


Image credit


Image credit

Sources: 1, 2



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